Practical Guidelines for Session Chairs

Before the Annual Meeting

  • Communicate with participants in advance, requesting any information you need to introduce them effectively, including their personal pronouns. If applicable, ask for a copy of their prepared remarks.
  • Be mindful of the time. Inform participants well in advance how long their presentations should take. If a presentation comes in that obviously exceeds the time allotted to it, the chair should write the author at once and insist that a shorter version be prepared.
  • Ask participants if any of them would prefer that the session not be live tweeted.
  • Please prepare a 3–5 minute introduction; this time is your opportunity to offer context for the session. What is at stake? Why do you think this is going to be an interesting conversation?
  • You might also consider preparing a few questions that will stimulate conversation among the panelists.

At the Panel Session

  • Start at the appointed time, welcome everyone to the session, and include the title of the session in your greeting for those who might have wandered into the wrong room.
  • Ask everyone to silence cell phones and other devices. Inform the audience if you are requesting that the session not be live tweeted.
  • Be concise in introducing the speakers.
  • Warn speakers when their time is nearly up, and stop them when they exceed it.
  • Presentations, panelists’ remarks, and comments should conclude 30 minutes before the scheduled end of the session to allow for discussion with the audience.
  • If you are moderating the discussion, repeat or summarize all questions and comments from the audience so that everyone can hear.
  • When moderating discussions, be sure to call on a diverse group of questioners. Be prepared to challenge offensive or discriminatory comments.
  • Do not allow the discussion to continue beyond the session’s announced end time.
  • Live tweeting: To facilitate virtual conversations arising from the annual meeting, the AHA encourages attendees to live tweet using both #AHA19 and the session hashtag, which is simply "s" and the session number: for example, session #1 would be hashtag #s1. Participants are encouraged to share their Twitter handles at the beginning of their presentations. Speakers presenting material that they do not wish to be live tweeted should make a request to the audience at that point, as well.